There’s so much more to wedding food than chicken and potatoes. From bubble bars to soup shooters, spice up your reception with one of these unique ideas.
Guess what? You can still have a “cake cutting” even if you’re slicing through a stack of donuts. Serve up retro classics like cream and jelly filled varieties, plus new treats we’ve seen, like white chocolate and almond or coconut and mango donuts.
It doesn’t matter if your wedding is in Florida or Minnesota — you can still bring a bit of the tropics to your cocktail hour or even your after-party. Keep your luau bar from getting too kitschy by keeping the leis and plastic flowers to a minimum. Instead, opt for fruity drinks served in thin glasses and tropical flowers, like hibiscus, to garnish the food.
Dressed-Up Comfort Food
Comfort food has been popular at weddings for years, but now we’re noticing a slight change, and it’s all about the presentation. Try French fries wrapped in monogrammed paper or mini burgers served with fresh flower garnish.
We’re not talking about the shots you might have done in college — these nonalcoholic drinkable shooters are served during the cocktail hour as hors d’oeuvres. Think: cold gazpacho soup, tomato and basil puree, or even stacks of chopped veggies — all garnished with fresh herbs.
Keep your guests caffeinated and out on the dance floor with coffee-infused desserts. Order espresso-spiked brownies or even Starbucks-inspired coffee dessert drinks like Frappuccinos piled high with homemade whipped cream. Include a few decaf options too, like chocolate milk shake shots or even flavored frothed milk.
Interactive Hors d’oeuvre Bars
Instead of the expected passed hors d’oeuvres, ask your caterer about a more hands-on option. A few fun ideas: have a raw bar with a chef shucking oysters or a guacamole and chips bar with a chef chopping avocados and muddling the ingredients in front of everyone. Think of it as your other other bar.
“Mad Men”-Inspired Bar
Go for that of-the-moment 1960s vibe when it comes to your specialty bar. Feature several types of whiskeys and bourbons along with a variety of cocktail suggestions. And don’t forget to spice things up — offer a classic Manhattan, but also newer pairings, like a drink made from rye whiskey, Barolo Chinato and bitters.
Yeah, you read right. We’re talking completely customized chocolate or even rice paper-made menus. Set them on top of each guest’s place setting and remind guests not to spoil their appetites with chocolate before dinner!
Infused Tea and Lemonade
With a huge variety of infused liquors already out there, it was just a matter of time before the nonalcoholic drinks started to get in on the action. Try infusing tea with fresh slices of peach or mango, lemonade with strawberries and raspberries, or even seltzer water with mint or lavender.
We’re not talking about the usual cheese fondue option. Instead, during the cocktail hour, set up a table with several types of vinegar, bread, and cheese, for instance, and allow your guests to create their own appetizer. Not into vinegar? Try it with chips and dip or even salsas that vary in spiciness.
Kick up your open bar by adding a small specialty side bar like a bubble bar featuring only sparkling wines and mixers like peach and strawberry juice. You could even add a soda bar with a variety of flavored syrups so guests can make their own coffee-vanilla-flavored Coke. (And brides take note: These bars can also make a great surprise gift for your groom!)
DIY Dessert Stations
Give your guests the chance to customize their own desserts. Set up a s’mores station near an outside fire pit, or, for a more formal wedding, have a waiter serve ice cream and offer a variety of toppings for guests to choose from.
Take-Home Cake Boxes
This take-home treat is for the serious foodie. Work with your caterer and offer guests a slice of the wedding cake — or even the groom’s cake — that they can take home. It’s an especially great idea for out-of-towners who may want a midnight snack in their hotel room.
Forget just matching any old Chardonnay or even your favorite lager with your dinner. These days, it’s all about small tastes that are perfectly paired with your meal. Offer your guests wine or beer flights during dinner and pair each drink with a separate course.
Game Day After-Party Food
Show some team spirit! If your wedding was just too formal to theme something around, say, Fenway Park, now’s your chance. Turn the after-party into a virtual game day celebration, complete with hot dogs, burgers, and fries.
Special thanks to: Sheri Jacobs of Chez Gourmet Catering, Colorful Palate, Katie Sprenkle of Eco Caters, Yvening Event Planning and Catering, LLC Jennifer of Affordable Catering, and Joey Campanaro of Little Owl Catering.
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– Amy Eisinger